Gatlinburg is an easy 222-mile drive from Nashville along I-40, and with some nice adventures along the way. Just a quick jaunt off I-40 will offer sights you never knew existed. We suggest exploring a few of the scenic byways, for very little added time to your journey.
Why not budget time for some cool mini-attractions that are beautiful, amusing and teaming with wonders to satisfy any curiosity. You can see everything from a pink elephant to a dinosaur made from car parts, to quirky boutiques to state park waterfalls.
Route 56 – McMinnville, TN
From I-40, head south along Route 56 to the quiet town of McMinnville. There, you’ll find an interesting dinosaur sculpture made of car parts (624 Sparta St.) that makes for a terrific photo opportunity. Across town you’ll find Cumberland Caverns (1437 Cumberland Caverns Rd.), which has some pretty interesting subterranean formations.
Route 111– Cookeville, TN
If you’re looking for some outdoor adventure, take Route 111 south of Interstate 40 from Cookeville and stop in at Fall Creek Falls State Park. This place has terrific, scenic trails and inspiring waterfalls. Meanwhile on the north side of the Interstate, find some quirky sights in Cookeville itself. Stop and snap a few photos with a pink, life-size elephant wearing sunglasses (680 S. Willow Ave.). Get creative; make it funny. You’ll love getting zany pics with this colorful pink pachyderm.
TRAVEL TIP: Around this point in your journey you’ll cross into a different timezone. Although both cities are in Tennessee, Nashville is CST and Gatlinburg is EST. Have fun with the math!
Route 56 – Gainesboro, TN
Route 56 northbound from Interstate 40 leads to Gainesboro with an unusual rendering of President Andrew Jackson’s head outside the town hall. Also the Flynn Creek impact crater (1893-2121 Flynns Creek Rd.) is worth looking into! And if you’re looking for more U.S. presidents on your journey, back in Cookeville (406 E. Broad St.) there’s a noteworthy mural of Ronald Reagan.
Adventurers will make pleasant memories just a few miles off Interstate 40 headed to Gatlinburg, TN. Nestled at the foot of the glorious Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg and neighboring Pigeon Forge are the exciting side of the Smoky Mountains, offering great fun. Take them in over a full week or during a weekend’s excursion. You’ll not be disappointed. Happy traveling!
TRAVEL TIP: locals in the know plan their getaway with last-minute weekend reservation bookings. Check our Specials page for all the deals, or call us 24/7 at 855-91-SMOKY